THE 1950s:. “Conservatism, Complacency, and Contentment”. OR. “Anxiety, Alienation, and Social Unrest” ??. Essay prompt. The 1950s was a decade of social, cultural, and political conformity. Assess the validity of this statement . Election of 1952. Red = Eisenhower (R) 54.9 442
“Conservatism, Complacency, and Contentment”
“Anxiety, Alienation, and
Social Unrest” ??
Red = Eisenhower (R) 54.9 442
Blue = Stevenson (D) 44.4 89
Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944
1957 1 baby born every 7 seconds
Dr. Benjamin Spock’s famous book reinforced stereotypical views of women.
The Baby boom led to increased school enrollment. College enrollment increased thanks to the GI Bill. After Sputnik (1957) the federal government increased its role in education and schools stressed math and science.
1949 William Levitt produced 150 houses per week.
$7,990 or $60/month with no down payment.
By 1960 almost 1/3 of the U. S. population in the suburbs. Mostly white.
SHIFTS IN POPULATION DISTRIBUTION, 1940-1970
Central Cities 31.6% 32.3% 32.6% 32.0%
Suburbs 19.5% 23.8% 30.7% 41.6%
Rural Areas/ 48.9% 43.9% 36.7% 26.4%
U. S. Bureau of the Census.
TV reinforced consumerism and conformity.
The Donna Reed Show1958-1966
Leave It to Beaver1957-1963
Father Knows Best1954-1958
The Ozzie & Harriet Show1952-1966
Car registrations: 1945 25,000,000 1960 60,000,000
2-family cars doubled from 1951-1958
1958 Pink Cadillac
1959 Chevy Corvette
America became a more homogeneous nation because of the automobile.
First McDonald’s (1955)
The U. S. population was on the move in the 1950s.
NE & Mid-W S & SW (“Sunbelt” states)
1955 Disneyland opened in Southern California. (40% of the guests came from outside California, most by car.)
The ideal modern woman married, cooked and cared for her family, and kept herself busy by joining the local PTA and leading a troop of Campfire Girls. She entertained guests in her family’s suburban house and worked out on the trampoline to keep her size 12 figure.-- Life magazine, 1956
The ideal 1950s man was the provider, protector, and the boss of the house. -- Life magazine, 1955
1956 William H. Whyte, Jr. The Organization Man
1950 Introduction of the first credit card - Diner’s Card
All babies were potential consumers who spearheaded a brand-new market for food, clothing, and shelter. -- Life Magazine (May, 1958)
The US had the highest standard of living the world had ever seen.
1947-1957 factory workers decreased by 4.3%, eliminating 1.5 million blue-collar jobs.
By 1956 more white-collar than blue-collar jobs in the U. S.
Computers Mark I (1944). First IBM mainframe computer (1951).
By 1960 600 corporations (1/2% of all U. S. companies) accounted for 53% of total corporate income.
Cold War military build up – Military Industrial Complex
1946 7,000 TV sets in the U. S.1950 50,000,000 TV sets in the U. S.
Amos and Andy
“Queen of the Kitchen”
Both shows faced criticism from the NAACP for their stereotypical depictions of Black life.
Today in the U. S., the Christian faith is back in the center of things. -- Time magazine, 1954
Church membership: 1940 64,000,000 1960 114,000,000
1. Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen “Life is Worth Living”
2. Methodist Minister Norman Vincent PealeThe Power of Positive Thinking
3. Reverend Billy Graham ecumenical message; warned against the evils of Communism.
Hollywood: apex of the biblical epics.
The Robe The Ten Commandments Ben Hur1953 1956 1959
It’s un-American to be un-religious! -- The Christian Century, 1954
Evangelist Billy Graham
“under God” added to Pledge
“in God we trust” added to currency
In the 1950s the word “teenager” entered the American language.
By 1956 13 mil. teens with $7 bil. to spend a year.
1951 J. D. Salinger’sA Catcher in the Rye
James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Marlon Brando inThe Wild One (1953)
A “Beatnik and a “Clean” Teen
In his book Michael Harrington revealed that in 1962 25% of Americans lived in poverty. These “invisible poor” often lived in rural areas and inner cities while their wealthier counterparts lived in the suburbs
Cycle of poverty
Published in 1952 Ellison’s book addressed the social and intellectual issues facing African Americans.
Sen. John F. Kennedy
VP Richard Nixon
Importance of the televised debate
Red = Nixon (R) 49.5 219
Blue = Kennedy(D) 49.7 303
Yellow = Harry Byrd (D) 0 15